NHL Fantasy Mailbag: Finding some consistency between the pipes

Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith. (Tony Avelar/AP)

As we approach the six-week mark of the NHL season, many fantasy owners are scrambling to find some consistency in between the pipes. Good luck!

With the exception of a few — weirdly including Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner — the early season has been littered with less-than-ideal goaltending. Sure, that’s part and parcel to the new equipment, but when does even that begin to be looked at as a mere excuse?

When selecting your goaltending for the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool, be sure to keep the weekly schedule in mind. Additionally, you may want to look for favourable matchups, ones that’ll help you tally some points.

Now to your questions:

Play the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool for your chance to win the ultimate grand prize: an all-new 2019 RAM 1500!

Colby Armstrong (@armdog): What’s the most important aspect of fantasy hockey? What’s some advice you’d give to a new fantasy player?

Hey, it’s former NHLer, Sportsnet’s own and new fantasy hockey competitor Colby Armstrong chiming in with a question. Colby was a great example of a nightly stream option when he was up with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh or Ilya Kovalchuk in Atlanta. VALUE!

Patience is a virtue. In the fantasy world, owners have the tendency to overreact and make emotional decisions. As was probably pivotal in your playing days too, it’s important to not get too high or too low.

I’ve seen Colby’s roster. Believe in your draft. Sometimes your best move is the one you don’t make.

Eddie Maloney (@frick187): What should I do with Mike Smith?

Well, similar to last year at this time, it’s been a league wide struggle in goal. The Flames are currently tied for 20th in the NHL in goals-against. Don’t forget that they surrendered a nine-spot back on Oct. 25 against Pittsburgh.

Perhaps that night was a turning point for Calgary. Since then, they’re 4-1-1 while allowing 13 goals, an average of 2.16 goals per game.

Also, David Rittich pushing the veteran Mike Smith can only be looked at as a positive. I’d hold onto Smith right now.

Zack Travis (@zacharymtravis): Should I still hold onto Juuse Saros? (Currently own Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta and Jack Campbell)

Due to Antti Raanta landing on IR, you won’t make have to make a decision yet. Assuming Raanta returns quickly to full health, this is an easy decision for me.

Firstly, Jonathan Quick is a competitor and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him return quicker than the timeline provided for his torn meniscus. As I’ve lamented before, I have zero faith in Jack Campbell. In general, I just don’t think the Kings are a good team either.

Conversely, the Predators are phenomenal. Pekka Rinne is their No. 1 guy but he’s also 35. Given his struggles in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, I’m sure Nashville would love to lessen his workload in the regular season. Enter, 23-year-old Juuse Saros, whose knocking at the door for a starting job in the NHL.

For a backup, I expect Saros to play a bunch this season. Keep him. Try to trade Campbell although that may be difficult. He hasn’t proven much at the NHL level.

Andersen is a horse.

Mark Boffo (@markboffo): I’m a Cory Schneider owner. What do you think happens in New Jersey’s crease?

It’s not like Keith Kinkaid has been any better since the hot start for the Devils. In my world, the No. 1 job is up for grabs. Keep in mind that Schneider is owed $24 million over the next four seasons. Kinkaid has been a great story but when you’re paying someone that much coin, how do you not give them a legitimate shot to try and regain their form?

Ultimately, I think Schneider will win this job.

Chase Bennett (@GratefulChase): At this point, should I just hold onto William Nylander until December 1st?

If you’ve gone this far, what’s another couple of weeks, right? Whatever comes of this situation, there will be significant fantasy implications.

You better hope William Nylander stays in Toronto. Part of what makes him so attractive in the fantasy world is that in the past, Mike Babcock has paired Nylander with Auston Matthews. With Kasperi Kapanen playing so well, it would be intriguing to see how such a situation would shake out.

Jeff Perry (@jeffreypperry): Can Gabriel Landeskog keep up this torrid pace?

No, it’s not sustainable. I’d actually circle — probably double-circle — Landeskog as a sell-high option right now. Similar to last season, he’s been a beast on Colorado’s top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

Eventually, I think Jared Bednar will have to try and spread the wealth to attain some depth. I’m also just a big fan of maximizing the value of players in fantasy hockey. Selling high on ridiculous and unsustainable starts can lead to championships.

Try to target a slow starter — by their standards — like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos or Erik Karlsson.

N14 (@n14hn_v2): Given his slow start in Vegas, should I drop Max Pacioretty for Anders Lee?

For the sake of this exercise, I inputted Max Pacioretty’s name in the trade engine of the Trade Market tab in Yahoo! Sports.

Here’s what showed up:

What this information tells me is that many owners are being patient with Pacioretty. As Vegas continues to struggle, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Gerard Gallant scramble up the top-six forwards. That would bode well for the former Canadiens captain, who has struggled beyond belief so far with two measly goals and zero assists in 12 games.

I’d wait two or three more weeks before contemplating trading Pacioretty.

Anders Lee would be a suitable swap for Pacioretty, provided these situations stay the same over the next month or so.

Kenneth Clark (@kennethclark): Is Ryan O’Reilly for real? He’s out-producing Tyler Seguin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. And he’s on my bench!

O’Reilly has been a tremendous addition for the Blues, too bad he can’t play goal. Simply put, I think he needed out of Buffalo in the worst way. Now that he’s comfortable and no longer anxious, he’s been able to do his thing. (13 GP: 7 G, 12 A, 19 P)

The Blues are littered with talent up front, which makes this start for O’Reilly even less surprising. To that point, I’m still taking Seguin and Kuznetsov over him every day of the week in fantasy puck.

O’Reilly is turning out to be one of the draft steals of the season. In Yahoo! Leagues, his average draft position was 158.6, good for late in the 13th round. Kudos to you for the pick!

HockeyHoran (@NHLDHoran): Is Lias Andersson a potential fantasy target right now?

Just to preface, I’m assuming this question is asked for non-keeper league purposes.

While I’m excited for what the future may entail, I think it’s a tad premature to own Andersson right now. He’s currently centering the third line with Jimmy Vesey and Jesper Fast. No power play duties either.

I’d hold off until Andersson produces a bit and/or until he finds himself in a better offensive situation. He’s just filling in for the injured Brett Howden right now. Unless he’s exceptional, expect Andersson back in the minors soon.

Jared Sved (@theJaredSved): I own Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo (two of my four D). Are either worthy of a roster spot right now?

Dependent on what’s available on your waiver wire, you can probably upgrade on Parayko. He’s an absolute beast, but as we’re seeing in San Jose, it’s tough to satisfy all on the back end.

Alex Pietrangelo is St. Louis’ No. 1 defenceman, and that isn’t changing any time soon. You can pretty much mark him down for 10-15 goals and 45-55 points.

To make matters foggier, Parayko is also contesting with sophomore puck-mover Vince Dunn, who’s off to a flying start. It’s a crowded blue line and an ongoing fight for second in command.

Upgrade from Parayko if you can.

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